Rumors of a possible Saudi Arabia World Cup bid for 2030 surfaced in recent days. The speculation started to swirl after Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman was seen sitting next to FIFA president Gianni Infantino during the opening match of the tournament. Saudi Arabia was obviously not playing a match at that particular time.

These rumors also suggest that other nations could join Saudi Arabia as co-hosts. Egypt and Greece could possibly team up with Saudi Arabia to bid for the 2030 World Cup. This is despite the fact that the capital of Greece (Athens) and the Saudi Arabia capital (Riyadh) are separated by over 2,000 miles.

Expert says Saudi World Cup possible in 2030

Nevertheless, sports and geopolitical economy expert Simon Chadwick claims that the scenario could very well happen. “This rumor, which is unsubstantiated at the moment, does have legs,” Chadwick told Sportico.

“[Hosting] is entirely consistent with what Saudi Arabia has been trying to do in football and more generally in policy terms over the last seven years. It is realistic to think that Saudi Arabia and two partners are a genuine possibility for 2030.”

There has only been three official bids for the 2030 World Cup so far. Two of the three involve multiple countries per bid. These three possible choices include: Argentina, Chile, Paraguay, and Uruguay; Portugal, Spain, and Ukraine, and Morocco. FIFA does not vote on a host until 2024.

Conflicting reports from Saudi officials

However, freelance journalist Seamus Malekafzali as poured cold water on the potential idea. The journalist reported on recent comments made by Saudi officials. A Tourism Ministry spokesperson told Bloomberg that the Middle Eastern country does not have a bid for the 2030 World Cup.

There is still plenty of time for Saudi Arabia, or any other nation, to submit a formal bid to host the tournament. However, the group led by Uruguay likely has the upper hand in host selection. Uruguay previously hosted the first FIFA World Cup in 1930 and it could be fitting to honor this anniversary.

PHOTO: IMAGO / Action Plus